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NEWS : Local News  

Human Rights Condemns Prison Managements in Sierra Leone
By Aruna Turay
Dec 3, 2008, 17:14
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The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has condemned harsh treatments meted out to prisoners in the country, with special reference to inmates of the maximum prisons at Pademba Road in Freetown.

This was disclosed in an exclusive interview with Edward Sam of the HRCSL in Freetown. Quoting Section 7 of the Human Rights Commission Act of 2007, he said the main objective of the establishment of the commission was to promote and protect human rights in Sierra Leone. "As part of the commissions functions, we visit prison and detention centres to inspect and report on conditions of inmates," he stated.

He disclosed that the most recent published human rights report on prisons states that a UNIOSIL assessment of prison conditions indicates that corporal punishment, solitary confinement, reduction of diet and lack of exercise are routine disciplinary measures taken against prisoners by prison managements.

"During one of our visits to the Pademba Road prisons, we found three prisoners in solitary confinements, sleeping on the bare floor as a disciplinary measure," he confided, adding "upon enquiring, we confirmed that they had been confined there for a number of days."

Edward Sam also said that according to UNDP report, about twenty prisoners died during the year as a result of acute malnutrition, and other related complications. He further deplored the restriction of visitors to prisoners. "These are violations of the prisoners rights," he said. With remand inmates constituting the highest number of detainees, he said the issue of chronic overcrowding, inadequate facilities, insufficient diet and unhealthy sanitary conditions are sure to arise. "In the opinion of HRCSL all the above constitute cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatments," he continued.

He therefore called on prison and police authorities to allow access to detention centres, particularly by institutions enacted by legislation as a national preventive mechanism to monitor treatment against them.


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